12 October 2016

"Engage me! I have a short attention span . . ."


By 2020, millennials like myself will make up 46% of the workforce; by 2030, 75%. Here is how to get the best out of people like me.

Millennials may have a reputation for being slack about work, but scratch beneath our surface and you shall find gold.

Tech-savvy, hyper-connected, and extremely allergic to bureaucracy, we don’t work to make a living, but to make a life.

Deep in our core, we relish making a difference, and would thrive in a workplace where our abilities can be harnessed with ample opportunities to contribute and grow as professionals.

To get the best out of us, start with our attention span.

Yes, it is short (Oh, look! A butterfly!).

We live in a society with ‘instant culture’. Have you ever opened a blog or article, saw a huge block of text and immediately closed that tab?


If your message is not conveyed right away, you’ve lost your bid for our attention.

What would entice us to engage?

Chunks, skimmability, bullet points, and headlines.

In our Internet-connected world, we don’t see the digital realm as separate and apart from ‘real life’ as you probably do. It is simply integrated into our everyday lives.

For instance, you probably do not consider it a technology marvel that you can drive a car to places you would otherwise take forever to reach on foot; or that you can use a washing machine or dishwasher to lighten domestic chores.

Likewise, we do not consider it a technology marvel that we can shoot footage from our smartphones, make videos, and share them with anyone anywhere; or play with our home-based dog remotely from the office as we work.

It’s just what we do because we feel at home with the technology that makes it effortless.

What else would entice us millennials to engage?

The popularity of YouTuber Vsauce provides strong clues (and hope) on how to capture our attention. Vsauce’s credentials? More than 11 million subscribers and one billion views.

I discovered three ingredients in Vsauce’s secret sauce:

  • Top 10 videos range from 5 to 12 minutes
  • A multitude of graphics
  • Fun to watch

How well your marketing or training materials tick these boxes explains the results you are getting (or not getting).

Let’s chat about engagement strategies based on these factors.


#1 Why abandon a winning strategy? Mobile video works!

As a millennial, I’ve been immersed in eLearning my whole life. Expert user here.

  • In primary school, I cut my teeth on TypeQuick, which features a koala whose travels are fuelled by correct typing speed, and Mathletics, a high-intensity live global math race.
  • In high school, online learning was a hubspot for documents and catch up tasks, and university was similar with the addition of videos, albeit mind-numbing, that you could watch if you skipped lectures (always for legitimate reasons).

Why did eLearning change from primary school to university? Since when were koalas and live math battles not age appropriate?!

Millennials are expert consumers of eLearning and know what makes or breaks online content. Clipart and text-heavy PowerPoints ain’t gonna cut it.

Multisensory video stimulation makes us want to learn.

  • Gone are the days of training workshops where the only benefit is free food.
  • You’ll have more success changing the way you train than changing the way millennials prefer to learn. By the way, there are 1.8 billion of us by one estimate.

Catering to the habits of millennials benefits both learners and businesses.

  • It truly maximises the learning capabilities of employees of any age.
  • Short, engaging, digestible videos are easily consumed on mobile devices.
  • Millennials learn on the go; a 5-minute video can be viewed on the way to work or between cups of coffee.


#2 Increase knowledge absorption

If you’ve ever had to deal with exams or assignments, you’ll know that cramming everything at the last minute Does. Not. Work.

By breaking up content into chunks, it is digested and absorbed better.

The average millennial’s attention span is literally shorter than that of a goldfish - 8.25 seconds.

A 10-minute video is already stretching it; you’ll have to provide attractive content at least every 8 seconds to facilitate positive associations with your content.

Just as it is easier to read your credit card number when it is broken up into four sections, with spaces in between,allow your employees to have breathing space between critical bits of information.


#3 Seriously, make it fun

Do you know why fun is a serious matter when it comes to training?

When learners have fun, you activate their emotions, not just their intellect. When emotions are strong and positive, deeper learning occurs naturally. Neuroscience research overwhelmingly reports that whole-brain learning works much better than dry, boring learning. It’s a no brainer.

The time taken to create training content with pizzazz is worth investing in. A general rule of thumb: if it’s not something you’d want to watch, change it into something you’d love to watch, and share.

To recap, if you want an easier and more effective way to get through to millennials, investigate how to create engaging videos to create serious fun and increase learning absorption.